There are always some people who will do whatever they can to make money on the back of a tragedy or crisis. As the Coronavirus outbreak continues to sweep across the world resulting in thousands of deaths, televangelist (and convicted felon) Jim Bakker thought it would be a good idea to peddle a fake cure to his desperate, gullible viewers.
Unfortunately, he’s not the only one trying to cash in on the virus.
FTC and USFDA Crack Down on Fake Cures
The Federal Trade Commission and the US Food and Drug Administration are getting tough on scammers trying to make a buck off the epidemic.
“The FTC says the companies have no evidence to back up their claims — as required by law,” the announcement said. “The FDA says there are no approved vaccines, drugs or investigational products currently available to treat or prevent the virus.”
Jim Bakker, the notorious televangelist who spent five years in prison for fraud, is one of the most prominent figures selling snake oil. The so-called “Pioneer of Christian Television” broadcast an infomercial for “Silver Solution,” which his guest claimed could kill the Coronavirus within 12 hours for the bargain price of $40 a bottle.
The New York Attorney General also issued a cease-and-desist letter after the scam cure was broadcast. However, the woman behind the “Silver Solution” product claims that she had no idea there was anything wrong with the infomercial.
“I was unaware that my company [was] violating FDA standards, or that any of the statements could be considered fraudulent,” she told BuzzFeed News in response to their post about the fake cure.
Etsy Removes All Coronavirus Merch
Etsy recently nuked all the Coronavirus-themed listings on its handmade marketplace. While crafters and independents weren’t selling fake cures for the virus, there were hundreds of listings for Coronavirus t-shirts, coffee mugs, plushes, and more. For example, a shirt reading “Straight Outta Wuhan,” referring to the Chinese city where COVID-19 originated, was pulled.
However, amid the novelty items and “too soon” merchandise were some truly unethical listings. These products claimed to protect the user from infection or offer some kind of medical benefit. A spokesperson from Etsy stated, “In the past few days alone, we have removed thousands of items that make such medical claims.”
One of the most popular fraudulent products online is hand sanitizer. Many of these homemade solutions contain no alcohol or do not meet the World Health Organization’s minimum standard of 60% alcohol.